One man dies as armed gangs clash
amid worsening political tension
As PM and Cabinet meet in Chiang Mai, escalating violence claims life of local PAD leader’s father
Saksit Meesubkwang/CMM reporters
An escalation in violence over the past few weeks between supporters
of the two opposing political factions, the People’s Power Party, (PPP), and
the People’s Alliance for Democracy, (PAD), has resulted in the murder last
Wednesday of Chetta Jiamkitwattana, father of the leader of the PAD Chiang
Mai faction and owner of a small local radio station, Therdsak
Minister Somchai speaks at the emergency cabinet meeting held at Chiang
Mai’s City Hall last Wednesday. (Photo © Douglas Morton/APMS)
The murder took place during a confrontation between the two groups at
Raming Nives housing estate in Muang district, after around 300 red-shirted
members of Rak Chiang Mai 51 had stormed into the estate armed with knives,
guns and home-made grenades, to be met by the PAD Chiang Mai group.
A fight ensued, which was unable to be controlled by police, and which
resulted in Chetta’s death from stab wounds. Gunshots were heard, with two
women reportedly hit and wounded. Witnesses reported that Chetta was
attacked by Rak Chiang Mai 51 supporters when he attempted to drive his
pick-up truck out of the estate.
Power Party supporters, armed with clubs and sticks, patrol a barrier on the
streets of Chiang Mai. (Photo © Douglas Morton/APMS)
Earlier on the same day, Rak Chiang Mai 51 government supporters, having
heard that PM Somchai would be landing in Chiang Mai, occupied the
International Airport grounds with the intention of searching all vehicles
entering and leaving. Police were able to disperse them, and it is believed
that they then made their way to the Raming Nives housing estate.
Previously, on November 22, the PAD group had released 20 hot-air balloons
stencilled with the faces of Thaksin Shinawatra and members of the present
government’s cabinet in front of Therdsak Jiamkitwattana’s radio station in
Raming Nives. The move was linked with the belief that this action would
take away bad luck and force both Thaksin and the present PPP government to
give up and go away.
On the same day, 200 members of the pro-government Rak Chiang mai 51 group
had surrounded Le Coq d’Or restaurant where the secretary of the Democrat
party, Suthep Tueksuban, was attending a wedding, and were searching all
cars. Hearing that Suthep had left, the group continued on to congregate
outside the Grand Waroros Hotel.
Later, the PAD group’s leader’s home at Raming Nives, which also serves as
the group’s headquarters and contains the local radio station used by the
protestors, was attacked with eight home-made grenades. Adjacent properties
were also damaged, and the police were called. The PAD group’s leader,
Therdsak, claimed that the pro-government group were responsible, and
attacked local police for not providing him with protection.
The escalating violence between these two local factions finally resulted in
death last week, claiming the life of Therdsak’s father.
PAD protestors set off
balloons bearing the image of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra in front of
Therdsak Jiamkitwattana’s radio station in Raming Nives.
Fatal highway crash results in two deaths
A crash on the Chiang Mai- Lampang highway involving a Toyota van
and a pick-up truck on the evening of November 25 has resulted in 2 deaths
and 8 injuries, at least one of which is serious.
rescue worker checks the mangled remains of the pick-up truck on the Chiang
Mai- Lampang highway.
The Toyota van was transporting workers from Lanna Agro Industry in Lampang
to their Chiang Mai homes when it was hit by the pick-up truck and forced
off the road. Saraphi police, a rescue team and medical staff attending the
scene of the crash found two men, Ploy Paonual (53), and Kanjana Natenoi
(37), dead inside the van, with the other 7 occupants injured, including the
driver, Sanong Ri-od.
The pick-up truck was found by the side of the road, with its driver,
Nopparit Thongdaeng (23), trapped inside and severely injured. He was
transported to Theppanya Hospital for treatment. Police have stated that
medical staff have checked the alcohol level in both drivers.
Karaoke bar owner strangled
by drunken customer
Local police were recently called to the Ton Nguen karaoke bar in
Tambon Faham by a young boy, where they found a dead woman, Wimonsai Tongsuk
(32) and her grieving 10 year-old son.
When questioned, Wimonsai’s son told police that since his parents has
separated several years previously, his mother had continued to take care of
him and earned a small living by running the karaoke bar.
A 34 year-old Akha man, Somboon Chutong, had been drinking all night at the
bar and, after Wimonsai’s other customers had left, a fight broke out
between the two that resulted in Wimonsai’s death by strangulation.
According to the dead woman’s son, Somboon had returned to the bar around 5
a.m., switched off the lights and locked the door before leaving again on
Police are searching for the suspect in order to question him about the
Chinese bank fraudsters
extradited from Thailand - again
A couple living in Chiang Mai were extradited recently for the
second time for being the conspirators responsible for China’s second
biggest bank fraud to date.
Chen Manxiong, 48, and his wife, Chen Qiuyuan, 46, together with two
employees at the Guangdong branch of the Bank of China, had secured
fraudulent loans of US$50 million from the bank in the two years between
1993 and 1995. They then fled to Thailand in 2000, where they were
identified and arrested in Chiang Mai by Thai police following a request
from the Chinese government. The couple had undergone plastic surgery to
make their recognition by the authorities more difficult.
The pair were imprisoned in Thailand on immigration and false passport
charges, but were extradited to China for the first time in 2002. In 2005,
Manxiong was given a life sentence, and his wife 14 years’ imprisonment;
however, the couple were sent back to Thailand in 2006 to complete their
sentences. Their second, recent extradition is the first under a treaty
between China and Thailand and is being seen as an obviously much-needed
milestone in exchange and cooperation in the judicial field between the two
Rice farmers protest against
non-payment for crops
The disgruntled rice farms negotiate with police
on the steps of City Hall.
Rice farmers from Chiang Mai and Lamphun recently gathered in
protest at Chiang Mai City Hall to demand increased government purchase of
their crops and immediate payment of monies already owed.
More than 100 members of the Northern Farmers’ Association of Chiang Mai,
joined by rice framers from Lamphun, completely blocked the entrance to City
Hall, demanding payment for crops already delivered and access to more rice
buying points. Police successfully negotiated with the protestors to allow
access to the government buildings.
The protestors argued for a clear-cut policy for payments, as delay was
causing financial hardship and debt for the 150 farmers who have been
waiting since June for a payment of 3 million baht from the local rice mill.
The provincial authorities also need to list more rice mills in the
government-owned project and pay more towards transportation of paddy rice
in different areas.
Following the protest, the Governor of Chiang Mai called for an urgent
meeting with the provincial rice commission aimed at finding an effective
resolution to the protestors’ complaints.
Drunk driver turns out the lights in Mae Hong Son
A drunken driver who crashed his car into a roadside electricity pylon
on November 22 left the whole of Mae Hong Son city without power for 4
Bhodi’s offending vehicle, with lights still intact, that caused a total
blackout in Mae Hong Son last weekend.
Sai Bhodi (60), a former driver with the Mae Hong Son Provincial Mineral
Resources offices, had been drinking heavily before driving his pick-up
truck into the pylon, which collapsed and pulled down five more with it.
The falling pylons damaged passing vehicles and caused a motorcyclist to
crash, breaking his arm.
When police arrived, they found Sai in an extremely drunken state in his
truck with just minor injuries to his chest and arm. A blood test taken
at Srisangwarn Hospital revealed a count of 300 milligrams of alcohol.
Government offices and nearby buildings were subject to three days
without electricity due to necessary repairs to the system. The total
damage caused to the pylons, transformers, and vehicles has been
assessed at 2 million baht.
Army says villagers’
in combating opium threat
Maj. Gen. Wannathip Wongwai talks to the
media about the army’s progress in controlling the opium trade.
A meeting was held November 22 at the 7th Artillery Battalions’
headquarters in Mae Rim, focusing on narcotics suppression and chaired
by the 3rd Army Region Commander, Maj. Gen. Wannathip Wongwai.
Wannathip stated in his opening address that the first opium destruction
project had already started, and would continue until April next year,
with a total of 130 rai of land under opium cultivation already cleared.
The eradication programme will involve districts ranging from Ta Yong
Yang in Tak, to Omkoi and include the Chiang Dao area, with at least 169
rai of opium targeted for destruction.
The Major General also asserted that in the last year the number of
opium plantations had decreased. Omkoi district was, however, still a
target area for drug smugglers due to the number of unemployed people
who were able to be persuaded to grow the crop, he said.
Efforts are being made by the 3rd Army region 3’s drug combating centre
to strictly control the situation, and to trace back to its sponsors any
plantation found and destroyed. Occupational skills training and
education of local Omkoi villagers in the dangers of the drug trade are
also solutions to the problems of illegal cultivation.
Wannathip estimates that there are at least 1,000 rai of opium fields in
Chiang Mai province, but has confidence that these areas can be
controlled and eradicated by the army’s specialist forces.